Five years have passed since Jason Statham fought a prehistoric shark in The Meg. Not surprisingly, critics weren’t overly impressed with the big screen adaptation of Steve Alten’s novel. But that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Audiences flocked to the theaters making The Meg a box office success and all but guaranteeing a sequel. Now Meg 2: The Trench is finally swimming into cineplexes across the globe. Consistent with the rules of sequels, Jason Statham faces off against not one, but three, megalodon sharks as well as some other giant aquatic monstrosities. Critics are even less impressed with the sequel and early box office numbers suggest that global interest will be important.
Five years have passed in Jonas Taylor fought and killed the unbelievable – a prehistoric megalodon shark. Now Taylor fights against environmental crimes on the ocean while still working with his team at Mana One to explore the Mariana Trench. During deep sea expedition into the Trench, Taylor and the Mana One team discover a rogue mining operation. Sabotage quickly strands the Mana One team at the bottom of the Trench surrounded by three Megalodon sharks and little chance to escape.
Meg 2: The Trench Crams Several Different Movies Into One Screenplay … None of Them Are All That Clever
Somehow Meg 2: The Trench has earned worse reviews than its predecessor. Of course, the sequel isn’t technically a good movie on any objective measure. Director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, In the Earth), better known for mumblegore indie horror, was an odd choice to helm The Trench. Moreover, Wheatley was working with a ‘dogs breakfast’ of a screenplay credited to three writers. How do you make 90 minute-plus movie about giant sharks that can pretty much swallow people whole? The answer, according to the writers, is to make a movie stitched together from several different types of movies. As a result, Meg 2: The Trench feels like a Frankstein’s monster of a story where the megalodon sharks spend much of the first act in the background.
… Meg 2: The Trench feels like a Frankstein’s monster of a story…
The opening scene, for example, feels like something out of a typical Jason Statham action movie and out of place from what follows. Much of the middle action – which finds the Mana One team stranded at the bottom of The Trench – borrows heavily from Underwater. Once everyone returns to the surface, Meg 2: The Trench finally embraces its campy roots and rockets to a silly, fun climax. In between, Wheatley and company spin a story that borrows heavily from other movies, ignores even its own internal logic, and boasts some dreadful dialogue. You’ll have many questions, like how a rogue mining operation got built in the Trench without anyone noticing. Don’t bother asking.
Meg 2: The Trench Proves To Be a Wildly Fun Rollercoaster Ride In Spite of Itself
While it’s a stupid movie in many, if not most, ways, Meg 2: The Trench is also a consistently fun rollercoaster ride. To his credit, Wheatley weathers the genre shifts in the screenplay and manages to get the most out of each disparate part of the movie. In fact, the middle act at the bottom of The Trench is often quite suspenseful. Damn accuracy and realism because the prologue where a ‘meg’ feasts on a Tyrannosaurus Rex looked amazing. And once Wheatley moves the action to the surface and ‘Love Island,’ Meg 2: The Trench abruptly embraces its campy nature. It’s a busy and over-the-top finale that delivers on all the action you want from a movie about giant prehistoric sharks. Throw in some references to the Jaws franchise and this a sequel that infinitely improves on the original.
To his credit, Wheatley weathers the genre shifts in the screenplay and manages to get the most out of each disparate part of the movie.
If Meg 2: The Trench gets one thing right about monster movies, it’s how to use its human cast. Don’t expect any depth or significant character arcs. In fact, Jason Statham and return cast members Cliff Curtis, and Page Kennedy are largely operating on auto-pilot. In place of the inexplicably missing Li Bingbing, Asian superstar Wu Jing joins the cast and looks like he’s having an absolute blast in this silly monster movie. There’s a handful of human villains, including Sienna Guillory (Resident Evil: Apocalypse), who chew up almost as much scenery as the giant sharks. Everyone starring in this sequel seems to have understood the assignment.
Meg 2: The Trench a Reminder That It’s Okay For Summer Movies to Just Be Fun
Yes, there’s plenty with which to take issue with Meg 2: The Trench. From a Frankenstein’s story stitched together from other movies to megalodon-sized gaps in logic to braindead dialogue, no one will mistake this big summer blockbuster for anything other than what it intended to be – a big, dumb, and fun movie. Consider it mission accomplished because this is one blockbuster that’s wall-to-wall fun. Wheatley even manages some suspense in the second act before doubling down on the meg-themed action for the climax. While Oppenheimer and Barbie prove that summer movies can be smart and topical, Meg 2: The Trench reminds us that’s it also okay if they’re just a lot of fun.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: B-